REPUBLIC of Ireland defender Sean St Ledger has revealed a desire to play in the Premier League and his dream of appearing in next year’s World Cup convinced him to swap Preston for Middlesbrough.
The 24-year-old completed his loan move, with a view to making the deal permanent in January on Tuesday before making his Boro debut a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday that night.
He said leaving Preston as the ‘‘saddest day of his football career’’ but said he felt Gareth Southgate’s men had a better chance of reaching the Premier League than North End.
“I’m majorly disappointed to leave, it’s the saddest day of my football career,’’ he said.
“It was my decision to leave, all it came down to was that I thought Middlesbrough have a better chance of getting into the Premier League.
“It’s about getting back to the Premier League. Hopefully I can be part of something very special here.’’
He added: “I’m ambitious and that’s where I want to be. I’ve also got my international aspirations. I’ve just got into the Ireland squad and I want to stay in there and play against some of the best players in the world.
“The financial side of things is always going to be better but the main reason is Premier League football and I think everyone would agree Middlesbrough have got a greater chance of getting there.
“If Middlesbrough are doing well in January they can go and spend a few million, whereas Preston can’t.’’
St Ledger has become a key member of the Ireland squad in recent months and is line to start the crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy at Croke Park on October 10.
The game will go a long way towards deciding if Giovanni Trapattoni’s side will be making the trip to South Africa in the summer and St Ledger says playing in the world Cup would be the ‘pinnacle’.
“I’m just starting out in my international career and I really want to be part of the Ireland squad,’’ he said.
“We’ve got a massive game versus Italy coming up and hopefully we can get a result and qualify for the World Cup. That would be the pinnacle.’’
St Ledger looks set to be joined at Middlesbrough by his international team-mate Caleb Folan.
Like St Ledger Republic of Ireland international Folan will join Boro on an initial three-month loan with a view to a permanent deal.
However, Boro would ideally like to use Folan against Newcastle on 19th December, so they are not going to finalise the move until this Friday.
“We talked long and hard over the last two weeks over who we would let go,’’ said Hull boss Phil Brown.
“We always look to make decisions with a view to progress and as a result, we’ve allowed Caleb to talk with Middlesbrough.
“We’ve always been looking for someone to finish off the work of a more and more promising squad and now more than ever, there are a lot of players on the front line competing for places.
“Caleb didn’t score in his four games and didn’t really look like scoring either.’’
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